"COVID is no joke," Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla warned at a city council meeting this week. The 45-year-old mayor said she has been suffering from long-haul COVID since being infected in January and will be fitted with a pacemaker Monday because of heart damage caused by the virus, reports the Washington Post. De La Isla, a mother of three, was hospitalized for six days after she was initially diagnosed and spent another five days in the hospital and had her gallbladder removed after the virus attacked her gastrointestinal system, WIBW reports. She was hospitalized for another two days last month after experiencing dizziness and nausea.
De La Isla told the council she will continue to be open about her condition. The mayor—who received a first dose of COVID vaccine before becoming infected by a family member who is an essential worker—tells WIBW that she never thought the illness would last for so long or do so much damage. "I’m a runner. I ride my bike. I’m one of the healthiest people you’d come across, and I thought I was going to beat it,” she says. She has decided against running for re-election this year, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. At a visit to a vaccination clinic Monday, she warned that the delta variant is hitting young people hard and urged people to get vaccinated. "You just don’t know," she said. "You don’t know if you’re gonna have it like the flu or if you don’t know if you’re gonna have it and you’re gonna end up in the hospital." (Read more coronavirus stories.)